BETT 2014 was massive. You only needed to squeeze into the packed carriages on the Docklands Light Railway and hear the array of dialects to get a very immediate sense of BETT’s size and reach.
But was BETT a success?
In terms of numbers and if you listen to the puffery of the organisers, things have never been bigger or better. My experience over 12 years is that BETT is always too big and the only way you can get any ROI from attending is to plan your visit like a military campaign. This is exactly what successful exhibitors do, but I think it’s very different for buyers, especially educators who tend to arrive, become overwhelmed and end up wandering around like kids in a sweet shop.
The exhibitors I spoke to were fairly happy. Most felt that Wednesday wasn’t great but that Thursday and Friday were excellent As usual no one thinks Saturday is worthwhile (‘a necessary evil’). It probably rates as 8/10 for exhibitors but for me it had several all too familiar pains:
|Improved pressroom, but no-one reads the piles of printed press packs lining the walls!||Exploitative food and drink prices with long queues at lunchtime, e.g. £26 for 3 small pies and bottles of water!|
|A few interesting things like:
||It’s a B2B trade show, and doesn’t fill the gap in though-leadership left by the demise of Learning Without Frontiers (why I’m going to SXSWedu)|
|Seeing the on-going success of companies like:
|Growing number of ChromeBook suppliers –
schools are really looking hard at TCO and what really drives great educational outcomes (the solution isn’t just loads of iPads)
|Pointless celebrity talks by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Bob Geldof. What did they deliver that’s relevant to BETT/edtech/education? The answer is nothing and they attracted zero media coverage!|
|The laser cutter exhibitor who loaned a soldering iron to PRIMO to fix their robot which had a broken connection (in happy contravention of ExCel’s Health & Safety rules)||BESA still don’t understand the most influential people in the edtech sector aren’t The Guardian, BBC and mainstream outlets (except the TES). It’s all about bloggers, Twitter and people you won’t meet in the pressroom!|
|The unnamed individual visitor who on Thursday gave away sweets, chocolate and drinks (purchased at his own expense) to loads of small exhibitors who were stuck on their stands||edmix Innovation Award farce. An edtech company founded in 2008 with millions of users and substantial funding shouldn’t be in a competition with start-ups!|
|Meeting old friends and making new ones||
Report card – B+ (8/10) for exhibitors and C+ (7/10) for attendees.